Aam Aurat next?
With crucial senior appointments due soon, the rumour mills in Dilli’s babu corridors are working overtime! According to the grapevine, women power is likely to assert itself this time. Last week this column reported that Sujatha Singh, ambassador to Germany, is strongly tipped by babu-watchers to be named the next Foreign Secretary, being next in seniority to the present incumbent Ranjan Mathai.
If that indeed happens, Ms Singh will not be alone at the top. It is also rumoured that Sindhushree Khullar, who was given a two-year extension as Secretary of the Planning Commission barely two months ago, and is also overseeing the Direct Benefits Transfer scheme of the UPA government, may well be appointed India’s next Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) after Vinod Rai retires at the end of the month.
Meanwhile, a little bird tells us that Delhi is likely to get a woman police chief after Neeraj Kumar retires next month. The name of 1977 batch IPS officer Kanwaljit Deol is being mentioned as Kumar’s replacement.
The ongoing tussle between SEBI and the Sahara Group has shadowed a curious sideshow at the Supreme Court, involving SEBI’s chairman U.K. Sinha and a letter purportedly written by M Abraham, a Kerala-cadre IAS officer and member of SEBI to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh with reference to the appointment of Sinha as SEBI chief in 2011.
According to sources, a PIL has been filed before the Supreme Court seeking removal of Sinha as SEBI chief due to alleged irregularities in his appointment. Among the names dragged in is that of Omita Paul, now Secretary to President Pranab Mukherjee, but who was advisor to the then Finance Minister. The Government has apparently opposed the PIL as “motivated”. What next? Going by the UPA Government’s recent troubles, we can expect anything!
Increased corruption in the State administration is something that should worry Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah. The State Vigilance Organisation (VO) is currently investigating around 170 cases of graft and possession of disproportionate assets by the State’s babus, including several senior bureaucrats. Sources say that though the Government has sanctioned prosecution in 210 cases since 2009, curiously, the conviction rate is almost nil! Only one bureaucrat, Adil Rashid Naqash, was dismissed last year for misappropriation of the public exchequer to the tune of Rs. 22 crores. Among those currently facing prosecution, according to a senior vigilance officer Javaid Koul, are a former Secretary, a former Special Secretary, a former Divisional Commissioner and one incumbent Deputy Commissioner all very senior officials. Clearly, a challenge for Omar Abdullah’s administration.